Business / Anil Ambani says he lives rent-free in Mukesh Ambani-owned property

Zoom News : Sep 26, 2020, 04:17 PM
London: Former billionaire Anil Ambani rejected a judge’s comment that he lived a “lavish lifestyle” as he faced questions about his assets from lawyers acting for a trio of Chinese banks.

Anil Ambani, the embattled chairman of Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), who went from being sixth richest person on the planet to ‘zero net worth’, told a UK court on Friday that he sold off all his jewellery to pay off legal fees for the ongoing case. The younger sibling of Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani also told the UK court that he is a “simple man of simple tastes” and owns just one car.

Ambani was giving evidence via videolink for the first time from Mumbai, in a English lawsuit over a dispute stemming from a defaulted loan. The tycoon, who has previously said his net worth is “zero,” was questioned about his spending and his finances, including more than $100 million in family loans.

Three state-controlled Chinese banks have pursued Ambani for more than $700 million in a London court, arguing that they provided funding to his Reliance Communications Ltd. in 2012 with the condition that he personally guarantee the debt. After winning a ruling requiring Ambani to make the payments, the banks have yet to receive any funds.

“He’s fighting tooth and nail to prevent having to pay us a penny,” the banks’ attorney, Bankim Thanki, said of Ambani.“My expenses are minimal and being borne by wife and family,” Ambani added. “I don’t have a lavish lifestyle and no other income. I met legal expense by sale of jewellery and, if I have to meet further expenses, [it] will be subject to approval by the court to dispose of other assets.”

On May 22, the UK court asked him to pay $716.9 million or Rs 5,821 crore and $ 750,000 or Rs 7 crores in legal costs to the Chinese banks by June 12. On June 15, the Chinese banks led by Industrial and Commerce Bank of China sought disclosure of Ambani’s assets after he failed to pay the dues which are yet to be paid, says the report.

Ambani was accused of putting his assets out of the reach of his creditors by putting the ownership in corporate entities. The family art collection was owned by his wife, he said. The luxury motor yacht, which was used family members -- but not Ambani himself, who said he suffered from seasickness -- was also owned by a company, he said.

Ambani had always said he never made a personal guarantee -- something he’d dismissed as an “extraordinary potential personal liability.”

On Friday, Ambani was examined over credit-card spending in luxury shops including Harrod’s that he said was done by his mother on his cards. He was also questioned over a $66 million loan provided by his mother, Kokilaben Ambani, and a $41 million loan from his son. He said he couldn’t recall the terms of the loans but insisted they weren’t gifts.

The former billionaire “has always been a simple man of simple tastes, contrary to exaggerated perceptions of his flamboyance and lavish lifestyle,” a spokesman for Ambani said in a statement. “He is also a lifelong vegetarian, teetotaller and non-smoker who would much rather watch a movie at home with his kids than go out on the town.”